How to Help Boys Succeed in School

Last week The Test Experts Instructor Hayden Angay wrote an excellent article for us entitled Girls and STEM, which inspired me to follow up with one for the parents of boys. It’s no secret that boys are being left behind in academics, increasingly so, even though we’ve known about this problem for over a decade. Hayden rightly asserts that we need to strive to get more girls interested in STEM disciplines. Just the same, we need to get more boys interested in academics period. And the colleges aren’t helping. According 12 Rules for Life by Jordan Peterson, “There are whole disciplines in universities that are forthrightly hostile towards men.”

So how do we, as parents of boys, help stem the tide against our children? First, remember that a lot of good has come out of this cultural shift: girls are thriving educationally more than ever. We don’t want to undo that, but we must help our boys thrive in this new world too. Second, as a parent, and especially if you’re a father, show your son that you value academics. This is harder if you didn’t excel academically yourself, but it can and must be done for your children. Studies show that the number one predictor of academic success is whether the parents care about academics: more than socioeconomic factors, more than technology, more than race, more than teacher quality, more than classroom size. If you care (and make it evident to your child that you care), you can help your child overcome any number of disadvantages.

Showing you care about academics can be done in many different ways. Check on your children’s grades regularly. Help them with their homework if you can, or at least create an encouraging environment while they’re doing their homework. Be empathetic when they are struggling through tough material, but don’t let them give up. Encourage them to get good sleep on school nights, and especially before big tests so that they are at their best. As best you can, fuel friendships with other kids who are excel academically. Each family dynamic is different; figure out what works for yours.

Third, be careful about discouraging sons from the fields that are traditionally women’s or currently dominated by women. According to 12 Rules for Life, “almost 80 percent of students in the fields of healthcare, public administration, psychology and education, which make up one quarter of all degrees, are female.” When I was going off to college, I was interested in a number of topics and considered several different majors—economics, pure math, even education—before settling on engineering. I chose engineering because I thought that’s what my dad wanted and that’s what boys did if they were good at math. My dad even once said, “What are you going to do with an economics degree? Teach?” He was/is a super loving and supportive father, but the point was made: “teaching isn’t really a good choice for you.” I was good at engineering and made a good career out of it, but I never felt fulfilled until I began to teach. Help your boys find their path wherever that leads them. What Hayden said at the end of her blog about girls applies equally well to boys: we need “to have an unbiased dialogue with [our] children and let their natural abilities play out.”

For hundreds (if not thousands) of years, men had huge advantages over women in education. In the last century we did an excellent job undoing that advantage by promoting education for women and girls, but, inadvertently, we’ve disadvantaged boys.  Education doesn’t have to be a zero-sum game. We must all work together to set up a cultural environment where all our children can win. This starts at home with you with each of us parents keeping options open for our sons and daughters and helping them excel academically in any field they choose.

GA State Legislature and Dyslexia

The Georgia State Legislature met Friday, August 17th, with a panel of experts on dyslexia.  Members included a licensed psychologist who tests for dyslexia, a UGA professor who developed and runs a dyslexia certification program, and others in higher education.  Several topics were presented regarding the need for a better understanding of dyslexia and an action plan for those students who are identified.

A main topic that prevailed was the need for universal screening of dyslexia for young children.  The idea is to have screening similar to that of the vision and hearing tests of students beginning elementary school.  There were many questions as to how to implement the test,  who would conduct it, and how to implement intervention.

The panel further recommended the need for teacher training courses to include a minimum of one course in the decoding of words.  This would comprise of syllabication, morphemes, phonics, sentence structure, and paragraph structure.  Also, the panel recommended professional development to current K-12 teachers.   The idea is to implement interventions to receive instruction by a Dyslexia Specialist in each school.

The panel will meet two more times to discuss further recommendations and options.  This is a huge step for the state of Georgia to begin the discussion of the widespread impact that dyslexia has on students.  If between 10%-20% of the population has a form of dyslexia, it makes sense to intervene and implement evidence-based practices to intervene.  Although promising and a step in the right direction, this overhaul will take an enormous amount of effort and planning to see results.  That said, this is definitely reason for those in the dyslexic community to celebrate.

Is my score too…?

Occasionally a parent will call us and want to know if we can help her child whose score is really [insert low or high here]. She assumes that we always work with students with [insert higher or lower here, depending on what you picked last time] scores than her student has. The Test Experts works with students with really low and really high starting scores–and everything in the middle too. We’ve worked with students whose starting score were in the low teens on the ACT, barely above random guessing (which on the ACT should yield about a 10-12 Composite score), and we’ve worked with students whose starting scores were 32s and 33s, shooting for that elusive 36. Same with the SAT. We have students right now whose baseline scores are in the high 800s and in the high 1400s. The Test Experts system is flexible, allowing the instructor to work with your student at his or her level and get the maximum score gain for that student in the given time allotted.

Jenny Phillips Joins The Test Experts

August 16, 2018 – Suwanee, GA – Jenny Phillips has joined The Test Experts, bringing a wealth of knowledge and experience in high school education to the company. Phillips has a M.Ed in Secondary Education with a focus on mathematics from Xavier University. She also has a B.S. in Mathematics with minors in chemistry and computer science. She is a certified teacher in the state of Georgia for Secondary Mathematics education. Jenny is currently a part-time geometry teacher at Duluth High School.

Phillips’ experience, especially in Chemistry and Geometry, is an ideal fit for The Test Experts’ core student base. The Test Experts founder and Head Instructor, Josh McKay, welcomes the new addition: “Jenny knows the curriculum; she’s in the schools working with these students every day. Who better to help them get a boost in academic performance than someone whose taught the subject for years? Her ability to help struggling math students discover a love for math will be a boon to our ACT and SAT Prep business as well. Jenny is the total package.”

The Test Experts, LLC is a test prep and academic tutoring company based in Gwinnett County, GA, dedicated to helping every child achieve his or her educational goals. The Test Experts provides test prep for the ACT, SAT, GMAT, GRE, LSAT, TOEFL, and also provides academic tutoring in most high school subjects: algebra, geometry, precalculus, calculus, biology, chemistry, physics, and English language arts.

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Girls and STEM

The ongoing debate lately is how to get girls more interested in STEM subjects and careers.  Unfortunately, a large percentage of girls do not believe that they are inherently good at math.  Most of this perception starts at a young age where very few toys or media that are STEM centered are directed toward girls.  There may be a subconscious belief system that results in this misguided marketing toward our children.

However, studies show that both girls and boys have an equal ability in math and science related subjects.  Often, society unknowingly pushes boys toward math and science by comments such as “He is a boy and doesn’t like to read” or girls towards language arts with “Girls aren’t that good in math.”

If our society truly wants to expand and tap into the potential of the best candidate for STEM, we need to educate teachers and parents to have an unbiased dialogue with children and let their natural abilities play out.  In this case, natural interest and practice really do make the difference, not gender.

Famous Dyslexic People

Did you know that 1 out of 5 people have some form of dyslexia?  That is right!  Roughly 20% of the population struggles with reading.   Dyslexia is a brain difference that causes difficulties in decoding words and affects every aspect of a person’s life, including other subject areas.  Since reading is the main form of teaching and learning, a student with dyslexia may fall behind.  However, there are proven ways to help overcome this difference and even excel!

Check out our Reading/Dyslexia program here.

Check out a list of famous people with dyslexia here.

People with dyslexia have so much to offer the world, and we want to make sure that they reach their highest potential!








Suwanee, GA

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Catch Some Quality Zs: How to Get Better Sleep

According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 35 percent of all Americans get fewer than seven hours of sleep each night. The study also claims such “short sleepers” were more likely to be obese and physically inactive. What’s more, the American Sleep Foundation reports that Americans aren’t getting enough quality sleep, meaning that they’re not waking up feeling rested or refreshed. That, too, can contribute to health problems, stress, and poor workplace performance.

So what are we doing to cause this? We, and our children as well, tend to stay up too late, drink too many caffeinated beverages throughout the day, look at our smartphones, tablets, or laptops well into the night, and play video games into the wee hours of the morning. In short, we’re doing lots to prevent ourselves from just letting ourselves fall into a deep sleep.

No doubt about it: a quality night’s sleep is essential for good health. But how can we get it if our lives are packed with online distractions and triple-espresso lattes? Here are three ways.

Prepare the Bedroom for Sleep

Yes, that sounds obvious, but with so many bedrooms also doubling as home offices, there’s always the temptation to wake up in the middle of the night just to check email or the balance on the bank account. While there are many articles that give ideas on how to combine the two, the bedroom should always be a place for sleep.

To get started, remove all distractions and clutter. Also, try to keep the bedroom a “device-free zone.” However, if you use your smartphone also serves as your alarm clock, set it well from the bed but still close enough for you to hear the alarm. Use soft, indirect lighting — or even candles — for illumination. Also, consider painting the bedroom a relaxing color, such as a warm brown or gold or cool blue for an adult’s bedroom. Consider a slightly brighter one for a child’s. Regardless of who’s sleeping in it, the color needs to be relaxing enough to help you go to sleep and stay asleep.

Turn ‘Em Off

 And speaking of device distractions, turn off all devices — phones, laptops, etc. — prior to bedtime and put them away. The blue light cast by these screens affects your body’s circadian rhythm and tricks the brain into thinking it is still daylight outside. Not only do your phones, tablets, and laptops use blue light, so do television sets and video monitors, and even some energy-efficient light bulbs. So shut off your devices, get the kids off the video game, and use soft lighting and candles to settle yourselves and get drowsy. However, if you work in a profession where you are on call, you will need to make your device accessible. But if yours is the one that needs to stay on, make sure it is the only one that stays on.

Cool It Down

Your body temperature lowers toward evening because of your natural circadian rhythm, which means the bedrooms should not only be quiet and distraction-free but also cooler at night in order for you to get a good night’s sleep. That’s not a problem during the fall and winter months when all you need to do is turn down the thermostat. But during the summer, consider adding small, energy-efficient window air conditioners in the bedrooms to keep from constantly running your central air conditioner all night at a low temperature. You can also use portable units. Keep in mind, however, that portable units tend to be more expensive.

By making your bedroom calmer and cooler and switching off all your electronic devices, you can be on your way to quality sleep. And that leads to better health, improved productivity, and more energy to last you and your family throughout the day.

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New Reading/Dyslexia Program

The Test Experts offer a new Reading/Dyslexia program with Orton-Gillingham based lessons including syllabication, phonetics, morphemes, and essay writing.  This program is geared toward students with dyslexia or any student struggling in Language Arts classes.

The Test Experts instructor Hayden Angay is completing her Graduate Certificate in Dyslexia from the University of Georgia which allows her to screen for dyslexia, to create individualized lessons for students, and to offer ongoing support throughout the student’s school career.

For more information about dyslexia, visit

For more information about our program, visit


Suwanee, GA



Candace Smith Joins The Test Experts

Candace Smith Joins The Test Experts

August 7, 2018 – Suwanee, GA – Candace Smith has joined The Test Experts, bringing a wealth of knowledge and experience in middle grades education to the company. Smith has a  Masters in Middle Grades Education from the University of Georgia and a teaching certificate in Gifted Education, Special Education, and English Language Learners. She has experience tutoring students of all ages in diverse locations from orphanages in Kenya to middle schools in America.

Smith’s experience allows The Test Experts (which previously worked only with high school and college students) to open up programs to the middle schoolers. The Test Experts founder and Head Instructor, Josh McKay, welcomes the new addition: “Candace’s experience really expands how much we can help the community. Sometimes students come to us with so many skill gaps in mathematics that we can only help them so much. Now we have the opportunity to work with these students at a younger age and fix these skill gaps before they begin prepping for college entrance tests.”

The Test Experts is a test prep and academic tutoring company based in Gwinnett County, GA, dedicated to helping every child achieve his or her educational goals.


The Test Experts, LLC



Jenny Phillips

Jenny Phillips earned a M. Ed. in Secondary Education with a focus in Mathematics from Xavier University and a B.S. in Mathematics from Presbyterian College with minors in Chemistry and Computer Science. She received her Certification in Secondary Mathematics Education from North Georgia College and State University.

Jenny has taught high school and middle school Math for several years and is currently teaching Geometry part-time at Duluth High School.

She has tutored students ranging from elementary to college throughout the years. Jenny is passionate about helping students who consider math a weakness and loves watching them become more and more confident.